“Happy are those Who Dream Dreams and Are Ready to Pay the Price to Make Them Come True”
Ian is one of the 2016 riders from the UK. I remember at the orientation in LA when Ian spoke very passionately and emotionally about this ride ands desire to collect money for two charities. Like many of threaders who have work and family commitments, time for training is often hard to come by. Riding cross country is an enormous commitment and there are many challenges that must be overcome besides just “riding 80 miles a day”. My initial reaction was that Ian would do fine but would probably struggle in some of the early stages. What Ian lacked in training though he obviously more than compensated for in heart. Never underestimate the human spirit.
The challenges begin early and often in the first few days of the ride. after the initial ride to Riverside California, the next 3 days are particularly grueling as we have a lot of climbing and also enter the Mojave Desert. Tracy usually gives use talk on heat prostration and how to identify it in ourselves and others. We are schooled in how we drink, time in SAGs, what to do in an emergency, nutrition, sun protection etc etc. When you ride int a SAG in the desert, the staff is ready with cold wet towels, assistance in getting your camelbacks filled, and anything else to get you in an out of the SAG as quickly as possible. My goal is in and out, ride fast and get out of the un (i.e to the hotel).
The last desert day to Wickenburg Arizona is over 116 miles, the longest of the entire ride and comes after 2 hard desert days. Typically besides the challenge of heat and long mileage there is also a lot of flats. The roads are okay but often bumpy. If you can make it through this day, you can usually make it through any day. I rode pretty fast with Lou and Howard, but I had heard that some of the riders were suffering. Ian was one of those riders.
I guess the staff thought that Ian was having some problems with possible heat prostration and dehydration. Tracy checked him and decided to pull him off the course (i.e he had to get in the van.) A couple of other riders includingJim also thought that Ian looked to be hurting. It is perhaps one of the toughest decision for Tracy to pul a rider off the course against his will. Ian said he was okay and thought he could go on. He put his hands on Tracy’s shoulders and said “This has been my dream fro 20 years and you are taking away my dream.” I think they took Ian to the hospital and he had an IV, but he still maintained that he could have ridden. He was pretty despondent and was thinking about going home , but may of us talked him out of it. It is a goal of most riders to go EFI, “Every foot and inch”, so not riding for even a short time negates that possibility.
AS the days went on, Ian got stronger and seemed to put that event behind him. He did vow to come back and complete that position of the course at some time. On the Kirksville Day, he took the detour instead of going through the mud just so he could ride an extra 20 miles. In the end, I think he rode more miles than the 3400 but not that one 20 mile stretch to Wickenburg. In the last weeks, Ian kept getting stronger an ridingfvster. On one of the hardest days to Wooster Ohio there is a stretch of about 10 miles of some really difficult climbs. I saw Ian up ahead of m and tried with about everything that I had and could not catch him. I so marveled at it that I called him out at Route Rap and he seemed a pleased as a kid with a new puppy.
Fast forward to the awards celebration on our very last day after the ride to the beach. Thesis the last time that we will all be together, riders and crew. They set up a slide show that cycles through hundreds of pictures of the tour, scenery and the riders. We have dinner, receive our certificates and say our good-bye’s. Tracy gives some very upbeat and emotional speeches. Some of it takes us back to our preparation work and time in LA before the tour and the sense of anticipation. It creates a symmetry of the trip and Tracy wraps it up beautifully.
One of the constant artifacts of our ride is the tour map of the USA that is placed in the lobby of the hotel we are staying in each evening after the day’s ride. Th portion of the ride that is completed that day is then filled in on the map in black magic marker. It becomes a thrill to see the map fill in and the line gets longer as we work our away from coast to coast. The map is large perhaps 3 feet by 5 feet. It is also adorned wth a few photos of pst trips and I am in one of those photos with Herm from 2014 at Revere Beach. Every year at the award banquet, the map is gifted to a tour rider who exemplifies something special.
This year thump was awarded to Ian. a very tearful Tracy had Ian come to the front of the room filled with guests and tables and she talked about the day she pulled Ian off the course and Ian saying that “You are taking away my dream”. It was readily apparent that there were two peolpledeeply affected by that days events both Ian and Tracy. I don’t think that Tracy thinks of herself as a businesswoman although she is an astute one. I believe that she thinks of herself as the person who helps us achiever dreams and she takes that responsibility to her heart, soul and essence of being. That is the reason I have come back to ride cross country with Crossroads Adventure Cycling and Tracy and crew, they care…..
Once again thanks for reading. I may add a few post ride posts and photos but would like to remind readers that I am riding for the Wounded Warrior Project and a link can be found on my site here.
Thanks for reading